Tagged: Pennant

Predictions Sure To Go Wrong 5.0

A new season is here and despite a lukewarm stove during the offseason, there are some interesting changes that should make our predictions even more misguided than before. Here’s a breakdown of how we see the final standings and playoffs going down. Bernie’s providing a “scouting report” based on our averaged predictions this time around.

National League

NL East Derek Jesse John Bernie Kevin The Winning Run
1 Nationals* Follies* Nationals* Nationals* Nats* Nationals *
2 Braves Gnats Phillies Phillies Marlins* Phillies
3 Mets Braves Braves Marlins Braves Braves
4 Phillies Mets Mets Braves Mets Mets
5 Marlins Fish Marlins Mets Phillies Marlins

 

1st Place- Washington Nationals

The  Nationals seem to be suffering from the curse of most Washington sports teams with their inability to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs. After last season, this led to a hasty change in management. Any moron with a working foot and hands can drive a Ferrari fast. That’s what this team is and why they’ll win the division.

2nd Place- Philadelphia Phillies

We rag on them a lot. It’s been ten head-scratching years since they won the World Series looking like they could have been contenders for several years. So it’s well-deserved. This time, they cleaned house a bit with a lot of cash-in-hand to build a team on the fly.

3rd Place- Atlanta Braves

They’re rebuilding too but the rebuild has had some setbacks. Shelby Miller and Alex Wood floundered. Wood may not have been comfortable in Atlanta but Miller was left out to dry without run support far too often. The front office traded away the pitching staff (giving up Kimbrel for what!?) to get hitters but also gave up one of the best defensive shortstops in the Majors – Andrelton Simmons. Nothing has worked yet but they’re still not the head case that are the Mets.

4th Place- New York Mets

They still have formidable pitching if they can stay healthy. Their lineup isn’t drastically different than the one that made a World Series appearance in 2015. In some ways, this lineup has some serious slugging potential. But they’re the Mets. As long as there’s a lurking sideshow like Tim Tebow, you can bet these guys can’t stay out of their own heads long enough to hold it together for a season.

5th Place- Miami Marlins

Part of me would like to call this karmic retribution for ruining perfectly good World Series championship teams from the past. That part is because I don’t want to disparage Jeter but, to be fair, this also feels like certain teams flexing some influence to manufacture winners and losers. Or this could be a genius move to truly build from the ground up…I’m not holding my breath.

 

NL Central

Derek Jesse John Bernie Kevin The Winning Run
1 Cubs* Reds* Cubs* Cardinals* Cubbies* Cubs*
2 Brewers* Cubbies* Cardinals* Brewers* Brewers Brewers*
3 Cardinals Brewers Brewers Cubs Reds Cardinals
4 Reds Pirates Reds Reds Cardinals Reds
5 Pirates Cardinals Pirates Pirates Pirates Pirates

 

1st Place- Chicago Cubs

Yu Darvish and Jose Quintana are in. Jake Arrieta is out. Kyle Schwarber looks like he was stranded on a desert island during the off-season but in a good way. There’s far too much young hitting and defensive talent on this roster to think that turnover in the rotation is going to do much of anything. Heck, if Schwarber can run down a fly ball better, Cubs fans should be rejoicing because he showed in Spring Training that he can hit for power just from his shoulder rotation.

2nd Place- Milwaukee Brewers

These guys were knocking on the door to the playoffs. I think they added some solid improvements to both sides of the ball with Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, and Jhoulys Chacin.

3rd Place- St. Louis Cardinals

These guys are like the San Antonio Spurs. They capitalize on their experience and reload. However, the reloading hasn’t quite been adapting to the rapid changes going on in other places. Molina is still a machine but that’s relative to his age. Same goes for Carpenter, Fowler, and Wainwright (who’s currently hurt). Tommy Pham has a lot of hustle and if Wacha, Gyorko, Wong, and DeJong can find an extra gear to raise their game, third place is going to be off.

4th Place- Cincinnati Reds

One guy north of 30 on the top of their depth chart for fielding but a whole lot of questions about their rotation. If this team could gel together this season, the NL Central will probably be the most exciting division to watch this season.

5th Place- Pittsburgh Pirates

Heart doesn’t win games if you can’t keep them close. There isn’t enough depth here to contend with the rest of the division. Doubt they’ll come in last in the National League but they rest of the Central provides a big obstacle to move forward.

NL West Derek Jesse John Bernie Kevin The Winning Run
1 Dodgers* Dodgers* Dodgers* D-backs* Dodgers* Dodgers*
2 Rockies* D-backs* Rockies* Dodgers* D-backs* D-backs*
3 Giants Giants D-backs Rockies Rockies Rockies
4 D-backs Padres Giants Giants Giants Giants
5 Padres Rockies Padres Padres Padres Padres

 

1st Place- Los Angeles Dodgers

Let’s give the 2017 National League Pennant winners their due. There’s little else to that’s necessary to mention.

2nd Place- Arizona Diamondbacks

I think Zack Greinke is ready to crush it this season. Taijuan Walker is a solid pick up to round out the rotation. Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb are a powerful one-two punch in a pretty formidable lineup. A healthy A.J. Pollock and an added bat with Steven Souza Jr. gives them a credible threat to unseat the Dodgers this year.

3rd Place- Colorado Rockies

The Rockies didn’t do a whole lot to solidify the impressive season they had last year. Blackmon has been on a steady increase over the last four seasons so he may regress this season. Their rotation is really well balanced without an elite ace.

4th Place- San Francisco Giants

The Giants added Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria to the lineup. Two guys whom many would have expected to be one-team guys for their HoF contending careers. Not sure if that’s a solution or snake oil for their woes that now include an injured (again) Madison Bumgarner.

5th Place- San Diego Padres

There are some shining examples of talent on this team with Brad Hand, Dinelson Lamet, Eric Hosmer, and Hunter Renfroe. Yeah…that’s about it.

paul-goldschmidt-arizona-tri.jpg
Paul Goldschmidt and the Diamondbacks have been waiting in the wings, could 2018 be there time to win the National League West. (Justin K. Aller/ Getty Images)

American League

 

AL East Derek Jesse John Bernie Kevin The Winning Run
1 Red Sox* Yankees* Yankees* Yankees* Yankees* Yankees*
2 Yankees* Jays* Blue Jays Red Sox* Red Sox* Red Sox*
3 Blue Jays Orioles Red Sox Orioles Jays Blue Jays
4 Orioles Sox Orioles Blue Jays Orioles Orioles
5 Rays Rays Rays Rays Rays Rays

 

1st Place- New York Yankees

Luis Severino made the case for being an elite ace to lead the Yankees’ rotation. They had one of most formidable bullpens in the Majors and they didn’t lose it. They dropped a Todd Frazier and picked up a Giancarlo Stanton. Can Aaron Boone lose with this team? It’s New York and odd things happen when you have that kind of pressure.

2nd Place- Boston Red Sox

Chris Sale is probably grinding his teeth a little bit about Corey Kluber getting the Cy Young. There’s also a healthy David Price. Rick Porcello is an enviable 3rd man in the rotation. Mookie Betts might be the most athletically gifted player in the Majors. They won the division last year and lost to the eventual World Series Champs.

3rd Place- Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays retooled their lineup a bit but they’ll have to do a lot in order to take any attention away from the Yankees or the Red Sox.

4th Place- Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles are losing depth on both sides of the ball as Chris Davis and Adam Jones have become the elder statesmen of the team. Having one of the best closers in the game being stuck on the DL again shouldn’t be a concern if they’re going to struggle to keep games close going into the later innings. Manager Buck Showalter is a crafty guy though and somehow gets his teams through a lot more than expected. But this is a pretty stacked division.

5th Place- Tampa Bay Rays

Carlos Gomez was a surprisingly good pickup to replace Steven Souza Jr (especially since Souza’s starting the season on the DL). The Rays have a solid rotation with Archer, Snell, Faria, and Eovaldi but there’s an extreme of old journeyman and hopeful prospect talent on the other side that doesn’t bode well for a good season.

 

AL Central Derek Jesse John Bernie Kevin The Winning Run
1 Indians* Indians* Indians* Twins* Cleveland* Indians*
2 Twins Royals* Twins* Indians* Twins* Twins
3 White Sox White Sox Royals Royals White Sox Royals
4 Royals Tigers Tigers White Sox Royals White Sox
5 Tigers Twins White Sox Tigers Tigers Tigers

 

1st Place- Cleveland Indians

The Cleveland Indians were a game and a series away from being right back in the action everyone thought they were going to coast into. They were stopped a team on an ascendant run while battling some tough late season injuries. 2017 Cy Young winner, Corey Kluber, leads a strong rotation that should hold things down for a bevy of young talent in Francisco Lindor, Tyler Naquin, and Bradley Zimmer to really break out while hustlers like Jason Kipnis and Yonder Alonso keep the wheels on track.

2nd Place- Minnesota Twins

Paul Molitor managed the Minnesota Twins like a Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic. Jake Odorizzi and Lance Lynn shore up a strong rotation with Ervin Santana looking more like he did eight years ago and a young firestarter in Jose Berrios who just needs to bring his home game focus on the road. Brian Dozier, Byron Buxton, and Miguel Sano have some devastating bats that will keep the pressure on opposing pitchers.  

3rd Place- Kansas City Royals

This team is rebuilding and it seems like they’ve got a plan. They’ve got some cash to pull in some talent later but only if they think they can make a run. It’s unlikely so third is an optimistic place that’s based more on their divisional opponents’ savvy and struggle.

4th Place- Chicago White Sox

Yoan Moncada has a lot of promise but it hasn’t been cashed in yet. Jose Abreu is either stuck or coasting. The White Sox rotation is patchier than a 12-year old’s security blanket.

5th Place- Detroit Tigers

The Detroit Tigers are at least trying to hold it together and present some semblance of a team. I’m still sore about the way they let go of Dave Dombrowski and I hope they’re kicking themselves repeatedly for it.

AL West Derek Jesse John Bernie Kevin

The Winning Run

1 Astros* Astros* Astros* Astros* Astros* Astros*
2 Angels* Angels Angels* Mariners Angels Angels*
3 Mariners A’s Mariners Angels Mariners Mariners
4 Athletics Rangers Rangers Athletics Rangers Athletics
5 Rangers Mariners Athletics Rangers A’s Rangers

 

1st Place- Houston Astros

They’re the champs. Let’s give them their due. They reloaded this offseason because there really wasn’t anything to rebuild.

2nd Place- Los Angeles Angels

The Angels probably aren’t putting all of their eggs into the Shohei Ohtani basket. They got Zack Cozart and Ian Kinsler to add some firepower to the lineup. The rotation looks awful to me but maybe they think Garrett Richards is finally due to bounce back into his 2014 form. They’ll still need to tweak that bullpen.

3rd Place- Seattle Mariners

The Seattle Mariners resigned Ichiro Suzuki. I really hope he can mentor some of their young talent. What I would love to see is that they ask him to start hitting for the fences instead of leading off so we can see some of his fabled home run hitting ability. There are some solid elements in Jean Segura and Robinson Cano, speed in the outfield with Dee Gordon, and if they can keep things close an excited closer in Edwin Diaz.

4th Place- Oakland Athletics

Moneyball doesn’t work when everyone else has the analytics you have now.

5th Place- Texas Rangers

The Rangers sold the farm and now they’re using some of their prize bulls to till the field for the next team to come in.

miguel-cabrera-d778d3f66afa5458.jpg
Will one of the best right handed hitters of all time, Miguel Cabrera, play for a last place Tigers team in 2018? (AP Photo/ Carlos Osorio)

Wild Card

NL WC Winner Rockies Cubbies Rockies Dodgers Dbacks Brewers
NL WC Loser Brewers D-backs Cardinals Brewers Marlins D-backs
AL WC Winner Yankees Royals Twins Red Sox Red Sox Angels
AL WC Loser Angels Jays Angels Indians Twins Red Sox

 

Divisional Series

NLDS 1-4 Winner Dodgers Dodgers Dodgers Dodgers Dodgers Dodgers
NLDS 1-4 Loser Rockies Cubbies Rockies Nationals Dbacks Brewers
NLDS 2-3 Winner Nationals Follies Cubs D-backs Cubs Cubs
NLDS 2-3 Loser Cubs Reds Nationals Cardinals Nats Nationals
ALDS 1-4 Winner Indians Indians Astros Astros Red Sox Astros
ALDS 1-4 Loser Yankees Royals Twins Red Sox Astros Angels
ALDS 2-3 Winner Astros Astros Yankees Yankees Yankees Yankees
ALDS 2-3 Winner Red Sox Yankees Indians Twins Cleveland Indians

 

Championship Series

NLCS Winner Nationals Dodgers Cubs Dodgers Dodgers Dodgers
NLCS Loser Dodgers Follies Dodgers D-backs Cubs Cubs
ALCS Winner Astros Astros Yankees Yankees Yankees Yankees
ALCS Loser Indians Indians Astros Astros Red Sox Astros
01Sox1.jpg
Red Sox fans should be excited. The Winning Run picked the Yankees to win the World Series. We all know that means the Yankees have no chance for another ring. (AP Photo)

World Series

World Series Champ Nationals Astros Yankees Yankees Yankees Yankees
World Series Runner Up Astros Dodgers Cubs Dodgers Dodgers Dodgers

 

Sorry in advance to the New York Yankees because this means they’re probably not going to win the World Series this year.

BL, DJ, JJ, & JB

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A Nickel Ain’t Worth A Dime Anymore

Yogi Berra had a special way of using the English language to express not only himself, but also the world around him.  The further he became from his playing and managing career the more he became known for his Yogi-isms.  Those odd, but truthful sayings that were usually funny but were also spot on.  Yogi Berra had grown into the loveable grandfather for all of baseball, and it has become clear with his passing that as much as he was beloved, he was respected even more.

I never saw Yogi Berra play a game in person or on television, except through some old reruns of World Series games.  I never saw him coach, except for some highlights of him being ejected.  My understanding of Yogi Berra’s greatness comes from the stories and the statistics that he left behind.  His statistics are incredible, as you can see here.  It does not take too much digging to see how special of a player Yogi was.  In five different full seasons he hit more home runs than he had strike outs, and in each of those seasons he hit at least 27 home runs.  His career high in strikeouts was 38.  Think about that for a minute, he struck out no more than 38 times a season over a 19-year career, or said another way he struck out once every 18.2 at bats in 7,555 career at bats.

Yogi and Carmen Berra were married for over 65 years. (www.sportsworldnews.com)

Yogi and Carmen Berra were married for over 65 years. (www.sportsworldnews.com)

1950 was the beginning of a seven-year run where Yogi Berra was a dominating force.  In those seven seasons from 1950 to 1956, he averaged a .295 BA, .364 OBP, .502 SLG, .866 OPS, hit 191 home runs, had 756 RBI, scored 650 runs, collected 1,129 hits, including 166 doubles, and 27 triples.  Yogi won three Most Valuable Player Awards, finished second twice, third once, and fourth once.  He collected at least 31% of the MVP votes in each of those seven seasons.  Yogi was this dominant at the plate while handling a pitching staff that had a 3.45 cumulative ERA from 1950 to 1956.  The New York Yankees won six American League Pennants and five World Series during this stretch.  He was the engine for the Yankees domination.

The true measure of a man does not show up in a box score or in any statistic.  It shows up in those that he encounters and influences along the way.  A person who does nothing to help others along the way is not worth much.  After I heard that Yogi Berra had passed away, I started reading and listening to the tributes that came pouring in.  Obviously no one was speaking ill of Yogi, but it was not in a manner of let’s remember the good time; rather it was this man was amazing.  In nearly every tribute to Yogi, his playing career was almost an afterthought.  People wanted to talk about the man much more than the player.  One of the greatest players to every play baseball, regardless of position, and no one wants to talk about his playing career.  This is how you know he was special.  Yogi, in my opinion, is what everyone should strive to become.  He was a fierce competitor, a loyal friend, a friend to strangers, a great family man, an honest man, a man willing to do what he was called to do, and above all he was himself.

Yogi Berra fought on the shores of Normandy on D-Day. (www.biography.com)

Yogi Berra fought on the shores of Normandy on D-Day. (www.biography.com)

Yogi Berra fought on the shores of Normandy on D-Day.  He was married to his wife Carmen for 65 years.  He used his fame to help others in ways many of us will never know.  The Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center does more than just chronicle his baseball career; it focuses on youth and turning them into better citizens and people.  Yogi Berra was great in so many ways, but for me he will be remembered for his love of life, his smile, and above all for simply being the type of person everyone should strive to become.

Rest in Peace Mr. Berra.  You were worth was more than a nickel or a dime. You were priceless.

DJ

Hope Springs Eternal

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball.  I’ll tell you what I do.  I stare out the window and wait for spring.” ~Rogers Hornsby

Winter is the time of waiting in baseball, and with all due respect to Rogers Hornsby, winter is the time of optimism in baseball.  Winter is when the basement dwellers bring in the pieces to being rebuilding.  This is when teams who have hovered around the middle of the pack add the missing player to push them over the top.  This is when World Series Champions try to recreate the magic, which led them to the title.  Every team is looking to improve, every fan base truly believe this year will be the year they get to the next level; whether it means getting to .500, making the playoffs, winning the Division, winning the Pennant, or win the World Series.

Optimism is what every team holds on to regardless if they just won the World Series, like the Giants, or posted the worst record in the league, like the Rangers and Diamondbacks.  Baseball is unpredictable.  A team can sign all the big free agents or trade for better players, but more often than not, that team will not even make it to the World Series.  The game of baseball can make your dreams come true one day and the next it can humble you and make you feel like you know nothing about the game.

A snowy Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium in Newark, New Jersey. (The Winning Run)

A snowy Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium in Newark, New Jersey. (The Winning Run)

Baseball is about equality.  One day the ball will bounce your way, and the next you cannot catch a break.  Baseball gives and takes without caring who you are, how big your trophy case is, or how large your contract is.  It is this equality, which gives players, coaches, teams, and fans their optimism.  Everyone in baseball begins as equals,; this equality is restored each winter.  It is what you do from beginning on this level playing field, which determines your success or failure.  People in the workforce and baseball players are the same; work hard and you will be successful.  Optimism is the driving force in reaching success.

Winter is the time when anyone connected to baseball feel hopeful and optimistic.  The ball will bounce their way this year, and they know they will be successful.  Winter is full of optimism because the hopes and dreams for this coming year are new and undisturbed.  Enjoy the optimism while it lasts.  it will disappear for many teams almost as soon as pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.  This pristine optimism can, and most likely will, begin taking hits from every conceivable direction once the winter gives way to spring.

D